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Laura Blum

Laura is a festival correspondent covering films and the festival circuit for She also publishes on Thalo



Cinematographer Rachel Morrison on “Mudbound”- Spotlight on the 55th New York Film Festival

“I dreamed in brown,” says Laura McAllan (Carey Mulligan) of the grime that permeates rural life in Mudbound. Her lament gave cinematographer Rachel Morrison a departure point for evoking Dee Rees’ WWII-era drama set in the Mississippi Delta. Much of what we see in the film, from fields and farmhouses to instincts and mores, comes from the sodden muck.

Adapted from Hillary Jordan’s 2008 novel, Mudbound is a tale of two families, one black and one white, both struggling to make ends meet in the Jim Crow South. The story opens at the end, with Laura’s husband Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke) and younger brother-in-law Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) digging a grave for their father, Pappy (Jonathan Banks), in a torrential downpour. Why Jamie imagines his brother leaving him to drown in the hole is as mysterious as the reticence their black neighbors show when asked to help with the coffin. Rewind a few years back, as Henry is wooing 31-year-old virgin Laura back in her native Memphis. What he lacks of Jamie’s romantic charm, he makes up for in seeming solidity. Laura says yes, and the pair winds up on a godforsaken Mississippi farm with irascible bigot Pappy while Jamie goes off to fly bombers against Nazi Germany.

The black neighbors turn out to be the Jackson family, sharecroppers who lease and work part of the McAllan’s land at a nominal remove from slavery. Their eldest son Ronsel (Jason Mitchell) joins the 761st Tank Battalion under General Patton, leaving preacher-farmer Hap (Rob Morgan) and his deft wife Florence Jackson (Mary J. Blige) to pray for his safe return. Return he does, just like Jamie, and the two veterans forge a bond. Continue reading here: